Last Thursday morning, we in the West woke to plumes of black smoke billowing over West Footscray and stretching for kilometres.
Over the radio and across our social media feeds, we learned that neighbours had been hearing explosions from just before 6am. The air was filled with the chemical smells of acetone. And we were horrified to be told that huge amounts of asbestos was being burned up in this ferocious fire.
My first thoughts were to the residents living near the burning factory and in surrounding suburbs. I worried for my family and friends, and for my staff heading into our Seddon office that morning.
Chemicals used in controlling the blaze ended up devastating our Stony Creek - with eels, birds and fish washing up dead as far as Albert Park.
We don’t know how the fire got so out of hand.
We still don’t know what we have been breathing in.
What happens to asbestos when it is burnt at those temperatures? How airborne and dangerous are those fibres? And are we still at risk?
Is it even possible to clean up this mess? And will the landowners will be found and held accountable?
Where are our local representatives on this? Where is the crisis hotline for us to get answers?
Many of us in the west live next to industrial areas storing who knows what. We’ve seen complacency and neglect cost us many times before.
These questions were raised at a community meeting last night in West Footscray. Stop dumping on us in the west and give us answers, now.